11.07.2019 in Education

The Causes of Academic Cheating and the Solutions


The best way to define academic cheating is to say it is the practice of acting dishonestly in terms of school assignments and during examinations. The practice is widespread in most college and university institutions, and a lot of students agree that they do or have cheated in exams. Different types of behavior have been identified as cheating. These include the act of copying material from a variety of tests and examinations, copying material or answers from other people during exams, the use of crib sheets, giving assistance to or receiving assistance from others in an examination room, or even having essays, term papers, and other assignment completed by other people. It is possible to trace the tendency to cheat back several years. While cheating has been the subject of research since the early 1970s, it is a practice that was not very commonplace in school and college environments thanks to the stringent rules pertaining to the practice and the possibility of disciplinary action. These days, however, cheating is more than just a widespread problem in colleges. It is a behavior that is learned and one that carries grave implications for the future, and the practice is growing even more widespread among students.

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Cheating or academic dishonesty has now been the subject of ongoing research for over thirty years. A lot of this research has been focused on identifying those students who practice cheating and devising preventative methods. Findings from a variety of studies, however, have not proved very effective given the fact that the behavior grows more common and prolific. Methods of cheating have changed to a small extent, and it is believed these changes can be attributed to the phenomenal growth and developments in Internet usage. The main focus of this paper is identifying the reasons for cheating in exams and what motivates students to engage in such behavior. Learning why so many students are tempted to cheat can help develop better codes of behavior for college students. It can also help devise better methods for preventing the practice becoming even more common and further damaging the quality of education at the higher level. Some of the causes of academic dishonesty are:    

Pressure to Succeed and/or Do Well

Some of the motivating factors and causes for cheating have been documented as the wish to do well and succeed first at school and then later on as education and life progresses. Most students desire to do as well as they can to impress their parents and peers. The newer phenomenon that high academic performers are needed in almost every workplace has additionally fuelled the temptation to cheat at exams. The majority of students want to achieve excellence in their academic endeavors in order to get the best jobs when their education comes to an end. Another motivating factor for cheating is the enormous pressure of almost every student’s workload. Some students who have been interviewed have argued that their workloads are too overwhelming and impossible to complete in the stipulated deadlines. Those students who participate in sports and athletics are affected more since they need time for all activities. These heavy workloads drive students to cheat in order to complete assignments in a timely manner, thereby ensuring good performance.

There is a lot of pressure on college students to get high grades. Many believe their futures depend on grades and failure means they will miss out on the best jobs or not even get employed. Consequently, they use whatever methods they can to get the desired grades.

The penalty if one is found cheating in assignments or exams is a no grade or failed grade in the majority of college and university institutions. This is a small penalty and is sometimes considered of little consequence. Therefore, it does not prevent the practice of cheating. Furthermore, before punishing a student, a tutor or professor needs to prove cheating did take place, and this can be difficult. These difficulties result in reluctance on the part of professors to penalize suspected cheaters, which further encourages the practice. Unsurprisingly, where a professor is required to record a student’s misconduct and prove his or her claims in an open hearing, they are reluctant to bring charges of cheating against a student. Therefore, an environment that overlooks and allows cheating makes the practice easier for students.    

An additional factor that promotes cheating is opportunity. With the advent of technological advancements, almost all students are able to access various materials online. This makes it very easy to get any information or assistance they require. It is very easy for students to copy and/or download materials from the Internet and pass these off as their own work. Furthermore, if they are so inclined, a student can sneak their phone into class and use these devices to complete various pieces of work. When interviewed on the website of ABC news, one student stated that because the few punishments that currently exist for cheating are not strict, they do not prevent the practice. A lot of students have argued that cheating in papers is of no consequence. What is important is being able to persuade a jury of their innocence and free themselves of any accusations.  

A lot of students have now developed a mentality of laziness when it comes to academic honesty. Because cheating is so easy, it has led to students becoming lazy and sometimes careless when it comes to exams and tests. When a student knows they can get their assignments completed easily or copy material from the Internet, they are very likely to avail of these shortcuts. Even better for students, they are more likely to engage in dishonest practices when they know their professors will not notice or even forgive such behavior.


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